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Licensee guilty of further Sky copyright breach

November 21, 2017

By Colin Mann

Following successful legal action taken by Sky, pub licensee Robert Stewart of the Village Inn in Edinburgh has been found in contempt of court and in breach of interdict for infringing Sky’s copyright and showing Sky Sports programming in the premises on a second occasion, without a commercial contract with Sky.

The ruling follows an earlier action in June 2016 against Stewart where he was ordered to pay Sky a total of £15,000 and Sky was awarded a perpetual interdict in the Court of Session, Edinburgh. This prevented him from infringing Sky’s copyright and showing Sky programming without the correct commercial licence. Stewart has now been issued with a court fine of £3,500 (€3,950), for the breach of interdict, and also ordered to pay a proportion of the costs of the action which amount to over £25,000.

Sky brought civil proceedings against the licensee for infringing its copyright by showing Sky Sports to customers without having a valid commercial viewing agreement in place. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement directly from Sky Business. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution. The judge described the evidence given by Sky’s witnesses to be “clear and cogent” and found that they “corroborated” each other in this court case.

“It is very important to us that the thousands of pubs and clubs who pay for legitimate commercial Sky subscriptions are not being short changed,” remarked George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky.” As this case highlights, we remain committed to ensuring premises are adhering to copyright law, including those where interdicts have been obtained to make sure court orders are being complied with. If we receive evidence that court orders are being ignored, we will not hesitate in taking the necessary legal action to protect our valued, law abiding customers.”

These successful cases come from Sky’s instruction to intellectual property experts from Burness Paull LLP and form a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and has made arrangements to visit more than 700 pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this football season.

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